B.C.'s new agricultural rules aim to protect human health, environment

Ground Water Canada
January 28, 2019
By Ground Water Canada
Victoria – New rules for agricultural waste management will better protect B.C.’s water and provide more clarity for the agricultural sector, the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said in a news release.

Effective Feb. 28, 2019, a new regulation for Agricultural Environmental Management will replace the outdated Agricultural Waste Control Regulation. It aims to enhance environmental protection measures, allow better compliance and enforcement activities, and make it easier for farmers to establish environmentally sound practices.

“We want to ensure agricultural practices are consistent with the protection of clean, safe drinking water,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman in the release. “These amendments are long overdue. We listened to the concerns and are outlining a clear and concise way forward for agricultural operators in B.C.”

The new rules, in line with the government’s CleanBC commitments, are intended to cut pollution and meet the province’s climate goals, the ministry said.

According to the ministry, the new provisions will:
  • ensure watercourses and ground water are protected through proper storage and use of manure, other nutrient sources and other materials
  • prevent water quality impacts from contaminated runoff
  • prohibit direct discharges
  • in some cases, require nutrient-management planning
  • allow for increased monitoring in high-risk areas
  • provide clear compliance expectations for agricultural operators for setbacks, storage and nutrient applications
  • require record keeping
While the new regulation comes into effect next month, more complicated elements will be gradually phased in over the next 10 years.

Several of the new provisions were informed by the independent Hullcar report, released in November 2017, which called for improvements to agricultural waste management in the province. Significant engagement with Indigenous groups, the agricultural industry and the Hullcar interagency working group, along with public feedback on multiple government intentions papers, helped shape the new requirements.

View the code of practice for agricultural environmental management.

Read the Hullcar report, From Crisis to Solutions: Towards Better Source Water Protection and Nutrient Management in the Hullcar Valley.

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